Getting “Marg the Marketing Manager” to hire you

I had an interesting phone call with my friend, Dianna Huff, yesterday. We were chatting about the importance of creating “Buyer Personas” to represent the kind of clients we’re trying to attract.

What’s a Buyer Persona?

It’s simply an imaginary character you create that represents – and closely as possible – your target prospects.

If you’re targeting dental clinics, for example, you might create a persona called “Debbie the New Dentist”. You’d get to know Debbie very well. You’d understand her needs and challenges. And exactly how your services can help her. read more…

Should you be writing infographics?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this. But three years ago I hadn’t even heard of infographics. Now they’re everywhere!

In fact, according to a recent survey, infographics rank in the top 10 types of marketing communications that B2B companies will be investing in this year.

To me, that’s astounding. Infographics – essentially a cool way of visually presenting information — is becoming as important to companies as white papers, emails and websites!

Should you be writing or creating infographics for your clients? read more…

10 Minutes With Gordon Graham [Interview]

Do you write white papers? Or are you interested in learning more about this type of project?

I just completed a great interview with the leading expert in that field, Gordon Graham, known as “That White Paper Guy”.

During the interview, he shared some VERY practical tips on crafting a terrific white paper… the kind that gets attention, builds thought leadership, and brings in new leads and sales. read more…

How to write copy, faster

Yesterday I was writing a sales page for a new program I’m offering. It wasn’t a particularly complicated job so I didn’t think it would take long. In fact, I sat down to write at 8am and figured I’d be done and sipping a congratulatory Starbucks by 10am at the latest.

Not so.

Blog pic10am came and went and I wasn’t nearly finished. The writing was going so painfully slow that I felt like banging my head on the keyboard.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Why was I struggling to write this thing? Why couldn’t I figure out what to say and how to say it? Why couldn’t I get this damned thing done? read more…

Writing for Ad Agencies and Design Firm (Part 1)

Here’s a question for you…

Which market has the most work for freelance copywriters and business writers these days? Is it corporations? Small businesses? Non-profits?

None of the above.

As you can guess from the title of this post, the answer is: Ad Agencies and Design Firms.

In fact, it’s always been a hot market. There are more than 70,000 of these firms throughout Canada and the United States. And most hire freelance writers regularly.

How do you break into this market? read more…

Where’s the Demand?

I just got back from speaking at the Copywriters Bootcamp in Florida. What a wonderful event. (Not to mention wonderful weather!)

I got a chance to chat one-on-one with dozens of business writers and copywriters. Some, old pros who have been in the game for years. Others, talented people who are just starting out.

Infographic 1I met one copywriter who has had tremendous success in the past couple of years targeting and writing for Microsoft Partner companies.

Another writer I had coffee with writes for the gardening industry – a niche I wouldn’t have guessed was viable. She does very well.

What those writers have in common is that they have “found the demand”. In other words, they have discovered a niche or target market where there are plenty of companies that need and, most importantly, want copywriting help.

Legendary sales trainer Stephan Schiffman once said in one of his books that if you’re targeting a niche where there is a strong demand for your services, you can overcome just about any obstacle and succeed.

But – and this is a big but – if you target companies for which there is little or no demand, then you’ll just be banging your head against the wall. You might as well be selling penguin traps in Nunavut. (As you may know, there are no penguins in Nunavut.)

I can’t think of anything more frustrating, discouraging, disheartening, maddening than putting a lot of effort into a particular niche only to find out months or even years later that it’s a crappy market.

So how do you determine, in advance, if there’s going to be a demand for your copywriting services?

One way is to research a cross-section of company websites in the niche or industry you’re thinking of targeting. What you’re looking for is an indication that they produce a lot of marketing communications to help sell their products and services.

Say, for example, you visit a website and discover that the company has dozens of product pages, a press release section, a blog, something to sign up for (like a special report), and an active social media presence.

That’s good news. That means the company probably needs and seeks writing help, at least occasionally (if not frequently.)

In other words, there’s a demand.

Another technique is to see if other writers and copywriters are targeting the same type of companies. If you want to focus on writing for dental practices, for example, you’re going to be encouraged to know that several other writers also target this niche.

That’s a good thing! If other writers are making a good living writing for a particular market, chances are you can too.

The lesson here is simple. Don’t blindly target an industry or niche until you do some research and find out if those companies actually need your services.

As I said, you can overcome any obstacle to growing your business so long as there’s demand. But if there’s no demand you can never succeed, no matter how hard you try.

When should you give up?

Last week, I had an interesting chat with a woman who is relatively new to freelance copywriting. She told me about how she launched her business after a ten year career in PR and communications.

“Frankly, my corporate job was going nowhere fast,” she said. “So I decided to jump into freelancing with both feet.”

She quit her job. Ordered some business cards and letterhead. Set up a website. And began an aggressive outreach program to land what she hoped would be the first of many clients.

She contacted everyone in her network to announce the news about her new business – former colleagues, professional acquaintances, friends, family. “Even our lawn care company got letter from me,” she joked.

Then she wrote and published a short special report related to her specialty (which is, coincidently, writing special reports) and mailed it out, with a cover letter, to a targeted list of prospects.

But she didn’t stop there. read more…

How to “date” a referral source

I wouldn’t call it a date exactly. (My wife doesn’t allow me to date.) But having a coffee with Mike many years ago was one of the best things I’ve done for my business.

Here’s what happened…

I was hired to write a website and some other marketing pieces for a sales tax consulting firm. During the project, I discovered that my client also hired a freelance designer — a guy named Mike — someone I didn’t know. So I picked up the phone and invited that stranger out for a coffee.

We met a few days later at a local Starbucks and chatted about family, beer, and the ups and downs of freelancing.

We never discussed referring business to each other. Not once. It was just a friendly, chummy meeting.

But a couple of months later, Mike called and said, “Hey Steve. I’m working with a new client who needs some copywriting help. Would you mind if I gave him your name?” read more…

An Excellent Copywriting Teacher

Steve is an excellent teacher. His style is concise, relaxed and interesting. I gained a great deal from his teachings and his books. And I left with real hands-on experience through the work that was assigned. Steve is a true expert in his field. Any copywriter could benefit from his suggestions.

JoAnn Attison

Worshop Participant

Engaging and Incredibly Informative Seminar

I wanted to thank you so much for sharing so much valuable information with us on Saturday… I found your presentation engaging and incredibly informative. The simplicity of the processes that you shared with us is truly elegant. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to create useful copy using the steps you outlined.

Lorna Wyllson

Workshop Participant

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